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Riga’s mayor vows to fight fine for communicating in Russian on social networks

"Latvian laws do not regulate such a popular form of communication as social networks", Nil Ushakov said
Riga’s Mayor Nil Ushakov EPA/VALDA KALNINA
Riga’s Mayor Nil Ushakov

RIGA, August 10 /TASS/. Riga’s Mayor Nil Ushakov has challenged a fine imposed on him by Latvia’s State Language Center, which did not like that the city Duma was providing information to people in social networks in Russian, Ushakov told TASS on Wednesday.

"Latvian laws do not regulate such a popular form of communication as social networks. That is why I have challenged as illegitimate the 140-euro fine imposed by the State Language Center as administrative punishment," Ushakov wrote in a letter to the language center’s head Maris Baltins.

Ushakov also complained about violations in procedural norms. For example, the State Language Center said it had analyzed the publications on the Riga City Duma page in social networks from September 17 to December 17 but later referred to publications made between June 17 and 27.

The State Language Center imposed a 140-euro fine on the Riga mayor because the city council provides information to city residents via social networks in Russian. Viesturs Razumovskis, the center’s representative, said that under the Latvian law on state language, municipal institutions could provide information to the population only in Latvian except for cases, which are linked to international tourism, international events, security or emergency situations. On everyday issues, the language of communication with the population should be Latvian.

Ushakov said he disagreed with the center’s decision and vowed to challenge it because the law did not regulate the sphere of communication regarding self-government bodies with the population in social networks. The mayor of Riga also emphasized that the Duma would continue to communicate with the people in three languages - Latvian, Russian and English.

Although Russian-speakers account for about 40% of Latvia’s two-million population, Russian is considered to be a foreign language. Latvian is the only official state language in Latvia.